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The bright secret of battery life

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On most smartphones in active use, batteries last little more than half a day. But there is a simple secret to the real battery hog, and how to double that life, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

You know how it goes when you first get a new smartphone. Battery life is amazing for the first few days, often lasting well into the night. Then, as you download more apps and use them actively, you find yourself scrambling for a power bank or charging point by lunchtime.

We keep hearing that battery life is the next frontier of smartphone technology, and then we keep seeing dramatic advances in every aspect of the handset BUT battery life.

In the good old battery days of a decade ago, a Nokia 6310i gave you seven days’ talk time and a month on standby. The rapid advance of smartphone technology has meant that average battery life has rapidly gone down, instead of increasing, because so many more components and functions have been built on the same old batteries.

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The Nokia 6310i featured a talk time of up to a week.

Now, however, battery management functions, such as those on new Samsung, LG and Huawei devices, help to identify which apps drain the most power, and to shut down the offending tools.

But, strange to say, this doesn’t keep our phones going longer. As we keep opening new apps that we hope are less demanding, or keep open some of the apps that are indicated as having low power demands, the battery drainage continues at the same high rate.

This happens particularly while one is driving, and using navigational apps like Waze and Google Maps. The assumption that tends to be made is that it is not the app itself that is resulting in heavy battery use, but the need for the maps to be updated continuously. This results not only in an ongoing data flood, but also requires the phone to keep polling the 3G or LTE masts at base stations along the route. Surely the prime reason the battery is dying!

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Android power management apps help increase battery life.

The truth is a little simpler and a lot closer to home.

The reason Waze appears to chew up battery life faster than a puppy destroying a slipper is because it keeps alive the real battery hog: the screen display.

Check that battery management tool again: it can almost be guaranteed that half the battery usage in any given period is coming from the display. The bigger the screen, the more the display demand, and the faster the battery drain.

For this reason, entry-level smartphones with 3.5-inch screens tend to have far more battery life than the average 5-inch or 5.5-inch flagship devices. Compact editions of the Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia phones last longer than their bigger siblings. This is counter-intuitive merely because we expect to get better performance when we pay more.

The LG G4

The LG G4

The exception to the rule appears to be the giant-sized phablets: the 5.7” to 6” behemoths. But there is a simple reason for that, too. Most of these phones have oversized batteries, specifically to compensate for the giant displays.

It’s not an industry secret, either. Manufacturers continually point out this truth, but usually in the small print, as an afterthought, or somewhere offstage after the big launch.

All of this means that there is also a simple secret to extending battery life, while we wait for the scientists and engineers to catch up to our needs.

Every time you finish using the handset, whether for a call, a WhatsApp message or a Facebook peek, simply click the On/Off button briefly – that is, not long enough to switch off the phone, but merely to turn the display dark.

If that doesn’t at least extend your battery life into the evening, something else is going wrong with the device, or a rogue app is indeed going puppy on the battery slipper.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/GGadgets

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Showmax launches half-price mobile streaming service

A new streaming product designed specifically for Africa, featuring TV series as well as African content and live sport, is aimed at filling the gap in subscription video on demand services

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The subscription video on demand (SVoD) model, which originated in the USA, spread rapidly in countries where uncapped broadband is affordable and widely available. However, because the model also relies on consumers being comfortable with transacting online and having ready access to credit cards, it has barely scratched the surface across Africa.

On top of that, smartphones are often the only only form of Internet access across Africa, and none of the popular SVoD services have been designed for the format.

Showmax says it plans to change this with the launch of a new mobile plan that costs 50% of the standard Showmax package but still features 100% of the same video content. Showmax is set apart by a combination of four pillars: hit African content, exclusive international series, topkids’ shows, and live sport, including weekly matches from the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga.

Showmax says the new plan is aimed at consumers who only use smartphones and tablets to watch video content. Video resolution peaks at standard definition to help reduce data consumption. As it is a product aimed at individuals, only one concurrent stream is included in the plan. As with the regular service, it is also available for a 14-day free trial.

“This is all about an African service developing a solution that meets the needs of African consumers,” saus Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. “Customer feedback consistently points to local content and sport as some of the things that people value most from Showmax. That’s of course on top of the international series, movies, and kids’ shows that are our bread and butter. With all of that content now available in a product designed specifically for mobile usage, we’re doing something no other service can offer.

“On top of that, with groundbreaking deals like our new offer with Vodacom in South Africa, we solve the credit card issue through add-to-bill payment and the data issue by including data directly in the package. We’re looking to launch similar offers in Kenya and Nigeria soon.”

Both the standard and mobile plans include live sport, sport magazine shows and sport documentaries. The 2019 Rugby World Cup Final was streamed live on Showmax earlier this month, and the following is a selection of some of the football due to be live-streamed in November:

22 November: Levante vs Mallorca (La Liga)

23 November: Arsenal vs Southampton (Premier League)

24 November: Bologna vs Parma (Serie A)

25 November: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United (Premier League)

29 November: Celta Vigo vs Valladolid (La Liga)

30 November: Fiorentina vs Lecce (Serie A)

30 November: Chelsea vs West Ham United (Premier League)

Showmax’s mobile plan is currently available in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. 

Comparison of Showmax plans:

Mobile Standard
Price per monthR49 / N1450 / KSh 375R99 / N2900 / KSh 750
Watch on smartphone or tabletYesYes
Watch on smart TV and computerNoYes
HD streamingNoYes
TV series, movies, kids’ showsYesYes
SportYesYes
Concurrent streams12
Cancel anytimeYesYes
14-day free trialYesYes
Chromecast and AirPlayNoYes
Number of devicesOne registered device5 devices can be registered, with 2 able to stream at the same time

For a 14-day free trial, visit www.showmax.com

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Online series wins SA’s Journalist of the Year award

A series of stories on gang warfare in Hanover Park earned Tammy Petersen of News24 the ultimate prize in South African journalism. Here are all the winners of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards.

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At the 18th edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards held at Vodacom World earlier tonight, News24’s Tammy Petersen took top honours and the R100,000 grand prize as national winner for her body of work on a gang war series entitled When you live in Hanover Park, you know death. Petersen’s submission was one of over 1,000 entries received from around the country across 12 categories – Investigative, Opinion, Lifestyle, Photography, Sport, Economics, Politics, CSI, Live reporting/ breaking news, Data Journalism, Multi-platform and the Young Journalist of the Year Award. This year’s theme – Connect the Dots – pays tribute to the best-of-the-best of those entries.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at Vodacom Group says: “This year has seen extraordinary entries to the 18th Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards. Not all the stories that are national winners were about huge events but also showed the importance of telling the stories of ordinary people. In line with our theme, the dots were indeed connected, and we congratulate all the winners.”

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The quality of entries has convinced the judges once again that our industry is in good hands, as far as journalism is concerned, despite the many problems that have beset the industry in recent times. Judging from the entries, South African journalists are determined to fly the flag high for a free, independent, and vigorous media, which augurs well for our democracy. As judges, we can only salute all the entrants for the great work that they submitted. In the end, our industry is probably the biggest winner.”

Judges for this year’s awards are: Ryland Fisher (convenor), Jermaine Craig, Arthur Goldstuck, Albe Grobbelaar, Franz Kruger, Patricia McCracken, Mapi Mhlangu, Collin Nxumalo, Mary Papayya, and Obed Zilwa.

Visit the next page for the full list of winners and their citations.

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